Much of the advice in terms of the five “racquet sports” is universal. For example footwear for all sports is broadly similar ie non-marking and supportive for lateral movement as well as impact cushioning. Similarly there are certain common features in terms of racquets/bats to consider with some players favouring manoeuvrable, lightweight racquets while others may prefer a more solid, control feel.
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Racquets for tennis have changed enormously from the wooden racquets of old and are typically principally graphite in construction (often with other materials such as titanium, boron etc). The main benefit has been a lighter product which is easier to use. In simple terms, racquets can be located on a spectrum from POWER based models (usually lightweight and broad beamed) through to heavier CONTROL based models:
Most club players will look for a model somewhere in the middle zone in order to achieve a blend of power and control. Nb beware of very cheap racquets which are likely to be of aluminium-based construction. Although cosmetically appealing and cheap, they will perform relatively poorly and are often not worth restringing. They are however a good starter racquet for juniors.
Tennis footwear has similarly evolved over the years and the good modern day shoe is typically of leather/synthetic leather upper, non-marking carbon rubber outsole and EVA midsole. Better shoes will generally have softer, lighter uppers with better cushioned midsoles and possibly support enhancing features such as straps on the uppers. The other consideration for those who play on different surfaces is the outsole pattern. Typically a “herringbone” pattern is used, which is most suitable for hard courts. However, those who play on other surfaces such as astro turf are advised to consider a shoe with an “omni” outsole – usually consisting of a mixture of pimples, crosses and/or herringbone.
All the balls we sell are ITF approved. Those that prefer a premium ball that will last a bit longer should look at the Head ATP ball, while most good players will find the Wilson US Open ball a little lighter perhaps.
Much of the advice for tennis also applies to squash racquets although there is perhaps less difference from one end of the spectrum to another. Better players will usually prefer a slightly heavier racquet with a smaller head size, perhaps around 130-150 gms, while improvers generally prefer a lighter model below 130 gms.
Footwear is not dissimilar to tennis although tends to be lighter with greater flexibility. Uppers are rarely leather and the outsole is usually gum rubber which is softer than carbon rubber. This provides better grip at lighter weight on indoor surfaces.
Balls are purchased according to ability. The best players usually use the slowest balls (double yellow dot) while beginners progress gradually from blue or Max through red/Progress, white, single yellow and finally to double yellow.
With two England Squash qualified coaches on the staff, feel free to pop in for a chat and some advice!
Much of the advice for squash applies to racquetball, at least in general terms. racquets tend to be larger headed and a little heavier and the ball is larger, softer and bouncier! Footwear is the same as for squash.
Again, racquets in badminton get lighter generally with price and can weigh as little as 70gms. Better players may however be less concerned with the actual weight than the “feel” of the racquet and the stiffness of the frame with some models favouring defensive play while others will favour offensive play.
Better players will generally prefer to play with feather shuttles while most players will be better advised to stick with plastic shuttles which are more durable. Speeds vary according to both conditions and ability. Beginners are probably advised to stick to medium speed initially.
Footwear is basically the same as for squash/racquetball although some badminton players prefer a slightly lighter shoe.
Not strictly a racquet sport, but with many similarities especially footwear which is essentially as for squash/racquetball/badminton.
Bats are still made basically from wood and rubber. As the price of the bat increases, typically the quality of the wood will be better and the rubbers will tend to be thicker and softer providing more spin, feel etc. A very cheap bat is probably best avoided for all but youth clubs etc as the performance is very limited. For the beginner a decent bat allowing for rapid game improvement would typically cost £10-15.
Balls also vary in quality from practice through to 3 star balls for competition.